Bodies Were 'Frozen Together in Flesh-on-Flesh Chunks': FBI

So-called body broker on trial for fraud
By Michael Harthorne,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 6, 2018 11:13 AM CST
Bodies Were 'Frozen Together in Flesh-on-Flesh Chunks': FBI
In this Tuesday, Feb. 2, 2016 photo, Arthur Rathburn walks out of Theodore Levin United States Courthouse in Detroit. The government says Rathburn and his wife operated International Biological Inc., which rented out body parts for medical or dental training.   (Regina H. Boone/Detroit Free Press via AP)

FBI Agent Leslie Larsen says the body parts—legs, arms, torsos, organs, and heads—inside the Detroit warehouse were "frozen together in flesh-on-flesh chunks" that required a pneumatic chisel and crowbar to separate. She says there was no heat in the "filthy" warehouse, nor running water or functioning bathrooms. There were, however, piles of dead flies, dog bowls, dried blood on the floor, and, of course, the body parts stored in beer coolers, Tupperware, and a refrigerator next to sandwich fixings. MLive reports Larsen testified Friday on what agents found when they raided Arthur Rathburn's warehouse in 2013. Rathburn had been selling or renting parts from bodies donated to science to researchers for decades, according to Reuters. The Detroit Free Press reports he was indicted on fraud and other charges in 2016 following a years-long investigation.

Court records show a human body, when cut into parts, can bring in $10,000 to $100,000, and there are no federal regulations covering so-called body brokers. However, Rathburn is accused of buying bodies infected with HIV, hepatitis, and other diseases at a discount and fraudulently providing them to researchers without disclosing the infections. An anesthesiologist testified that doctors won't accept such bodies due to health concerns. The government started investigating Rathburn after he shipped a human head from Tel Aviv to Chicago inside a trash bag in a cooler. Rathburn allegedly lied about the pooling liquid in the cooler being Listerine and the head having been embalmed. Rathburn's ex-wife has already pleaded guilty to fraud and is acting as a witness against him. Rathburn's lawyer says she is "most responsible" for any alleged wrongdoing. (More body parts stories.)

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